Midfielder Morgan Andrews walked into the media room clutching her Gatorade Athlete of the Year award. And she carried it with her all night long – even to the rooftop pool party at the W Hotel in Hollywood after the ceremony.
The incoming Notre Dame freshman was named the 2012-13 Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year Tuesday night and it was perhaps the most exciting thing that had happened to Andrews in her career as a student-athlete. Andrews and the award’s male recipient for this year, basketball guard Andrew Wiggins, were both honored as the best prep athletes in the country during the eventl.
Andrews received the honor from her idol, Abby Wambach, U.S. Women’s National Team forward and the world leader in career goals, herself a recipient of the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year award.
“It’s been an incredible experience,” said Andrews, who thanked her small hometown of Milford, N.H. for its support. “This award means the world to me.”
Asked if she thought it was possible to play on the same team as the newly honored player, Wambach said: ”I would be the honored person to be on the field with her. If we could play on the same field one day that would be really special. I would pull her aside and explain to the girls how we first met.”
Andrews won over nominees Sarah Baxter, a distance runner from Simi Valley (Calif.) High; volleyball setter Lauren Carlini of West Aurora High in Aurora, IIl.; softball pitcher Carley Hoover of D.W. Daniel High in Central, S.C.; basketball player Mercedes Russell of Springfield (Ore.) High; and heptathlete Kendell Williams of Kell High in Marietta, Ga.
Really, there were no losers. All the girls were feted in Hollywood and treated to a work-out with trainer-to-the-stars Gunnar Peterson, dance lessons with SYTYCD star Twitch, followed by massages, and professional hair and make-up. On Wednesday they head to the ESPY Awards for more glitz and glamour, as well as the chance to meet more of their idols.
The prestigious Gatorade honor has been presented annually since 2003 to the nation’s top male and female athletes across each of 12 sports (six for each gender) in which Gatorade presents a national player of the year award. A panel of sports journalists, coaches, prep sports experts and analysts reviews each of the nominees, with the primary athletic criteria for selecting the nation’s top overall male and female high school athlete including:
- Individual résumé, including historical context of accomplishments, statistics, honors, talent-level evaluation, etc.
- Team play, including leadership ability and impact on team success.
- Overall contributions to sport; including, but not limited to achievements/impact made at the club, national or international levels of competition, standout performances in multiple sports, etc.
The New Hampshire native is the second soccer player of either gender to earn the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award, joining current University of Virginia and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Morgan Brian (2011) in that elite club.
Other previous recipients of the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year award include: NBA superstars LeBron James (2003) and Dwight Howard (2004), as well as women’s basketball notables Candace Parker (2004), Tina Charles (2006), Maya Moore (2007) and Chiney Ogwumike (2011).
Andrews’ new coach at Notre Dame Randy Waldrum said. “Both on and off the field, Morgan is an incredibly unselfish and giving person and we couldn’t be happier to hear that she is the Gatorade National High School Athlete of the Year. She will be an important addition to not only our program, but our entire University, during the next four years, and we are looking forward to having her on campus when we start preseason training next month.”
Back in May, Andrews became the first soccer player of either gender, as well as the ninth student-athlete in any sport, to be chosen as a two-time recipient of the Gatorade National High School Player of the Year during the award’s 28-year history.
Andrews is the nation’s No. 1-ranked high school player in the Class of 2013 and was a three-time Gatorade New Hampshire High School Player of the Year, as well as the 2012 National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) High School Player of the Year. What’s more, she was a three-time NSCAA Youth All-America selection and a two-time NSCAA High School All-America choice after piling up 114 goals and 53 assists (both school and conference records) during her four-year career at Milford High School.
When she was chosen for her first Gatorade High School Player of the Year award in 2012, she became one of only 20 student-athletes to be chosen for the honor in her sport as a non-senior. She also is the only prep athlete in any sport from the state of New Hampshire to earn Gatorade national honors.
Andrews has been a regular member of the U.S. Soccer youth national team program for the past five years, having recently completed her latest training camp with the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team last weekend in Portland, Ore.
Andrews (who also earned an invitation to train with the U.S. Under-23 National Team earlier this year) moved up to the U-20 and U-23 player pools after serving as captain of the U.S. Under-17 Women’s National Team during the 2011 and 2012 cycles and leading the Americans to the 2012 CONCACAF U-17 Championship in Guatemala, as well as a spot in the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan (the United States tied for first in its group but was eliminated on goal differential). During that two-year period with the U-17s, Andrews started 19 times (15 in international play), collecting two goals and two assists.
“I can talk to you about Morgan Andrews all day,” former U.S. U-17 Women’s National Team coach Albertin Montoya recently told USA Today High School Sports. “I think the world of this kid. She’s an incredible leader. She’s humble, driven, she’s a captain. She’s separate from the pack. On the field, she’s as good as it gets. Technique, vision, she’s special. Her understanding, her capability to control the game. Special. She’s driven to be the best. Andrews is the most complete player I’ve encountered at her age.”
In addition to her achievements on the soccer pitch, Andrews was a standout placekicker for the Milford High School football team, earning Division II all-state honors in 2011, and she maintained a 3.17 GPA in the classroom.
She also has been a significant contributor in her community, founding and directing the Kicks for Cans charitable initiative, helping to train area youth soccer players at clinics where attendees bring canned goods for area food banks as the admission fee. Andrews also has served as a community-outreach volunteer for Share Barn, providing clothing and moral support to area needy.
Furthermore, Andrews donates her time as a coach for the Nashua World Cup Soccer Club and the Inti Soccer Academy for disadvantaged youth. Last winter, she spearheaded collaboration with American Red Cross on a “Holiday Cards for Heroes” campaign, coordinating mailing of more than 1,700 encouraging holiday messages to troops deployed overseas.
Andrews and her Notre Dame teammates will kick off the 2013 season at 1 p.m. (ET) Aug. 14 with an exhibition match against Xavier at the Notre Dame Practice Field (east of Eck Baseball Stadium). The Fighting Irish open the regular season at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Aug. 23, playing host to Illinois at Alumni Stadium.
Oh – and her favorite flavor of Gatorade? Orange.